Bishop announces 2018 youth Lenten service project
In his message proclaiming the First World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis reminds us that in response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist: “If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor.” In other words, we are strengthened by the reception of Jesus in Holy Communion to go forth and encounter Jesus in the poor. We’re able to find him in the hungry, the sick, the neglected, and the homeless.
On February 28, 2017, our Holy Father offered a further challenge when working with the poor: we are called to “look them in the eyes and touch their hands.” Why? Because they are humans who possess dignity and deserve respect—that is how humans should treat one another! We are challenged to ongoing works of mercy with our brothers and sisters.
In light of all of these many beautiful challenges, I am asking the youth of our diocese to join me this Lent in a unique opportunity to encounter Jesus in the poor of our own community. Dr. David and Mrs. Linda Brown have begun a program known as Eden Village, which is a “micro-home concept” developed in response to homelessness in our community. Each tiny home is built at a cost of $30,000, and provides lifetime housing for a chronically-disabled homeless individual. It is my hope that every young person in our parish youth groups, parish religious programs, elementary schools, and high schools will make building one micro home the focus of the 40 days of Lent, knowing their prayers and good works will provide a forever home to one homeless person in southern Missouri. More information on Eden Village may be found at www.gatheringtree.org/eden-village.
In addition, I encourage you to spend some time discussing with your children how you all may practice the traditional works of Lent, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, as a family while participating in our diocesan Lenten Mission of Mercy. A prayer for the homeless can be offered daily. As we decide what foods from which we may fast, the money spent on those items can be donated to this project. In our almsgiving, we can make a difference in helping those in need and keep the works of mercy alive.
We find our mission in the motto of our Diocese, “One Church, East to West: Loving Jesus, Serving Jesus, and Sharing Jesus.” It is my hope and prayer that the youth of our diocese will embrace our mission and join me in this Lenten work of mercy.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
The Most Rev. Edward M. Rice
Bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau